Is It Okay To Give CBD To Our Pets In The UK?
We were intrigued when we heard about brands who had created CBD oil products specifically for dogs but when we go back to the science, it’s not so surprising. The Endocannabinoid System is present in both humans and animals and works in the same way which is why pets such as cats and dogs can fall victim to the same illnesses, both physical and emotional, as we do. So as we learn more about CBD and its benefits for humans, it’s inevitable that our attention has turned to how it could potentially help animals too.
Whilst researching this story we came across a few articles in The Metro and The Evening Standard about UK pet owners using CBD oil to treat their cat or dog and a report in the Washington Post this year suggests that US pet owners are doing the same. However, whilst there is a lot of anecdotal evidence from pet owners to suggest that CBD has helped a range of conditions there is as yet, there is very little research to back this up.
Over in America, Dr Jerry Klein, Chief Veterinary Officer at the American Kennel Club says “The interest in CBD for medical usage in animals has risen exponentially,” “Owners are seeking alternative modes of treatment which challenge the traditional, a trend which is set to grow with the ever-changing laws legalising hemp and marijuana in some states.” The lack of research is something that the American Kennel Club’s Canine Health Foundation is seeking to change with its $2 million study into Cannabidiol (CBD) to treat drug resistant epilepsy in dogs.
The rules on CBD use for pets in the UK
If the CBD market for humans is only just taking off for animals it’s even further behind and pet owners can’t just walk into their local pet food store to pick up some CBD oil as there are very strict rules and regulations around its use for pets in the UK .
In September 2018, The Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) stated ‘veterinary products containing Cannabidiol are veterinary medicines’ and as such should be regulated. What this means is that any CBD products created for animals need to have a marketing authorisation before they can be sold or supplied in the UK.
At the time of writing, no CBD based products have been granted a UK veterinary marketing authorisation. Under this ruling, one Tyneside manufacturer has already been served a notice to remove the CBD for pets products on their website and no doubt there will be more receiving similar notices in the future.
Although no CBD pet products are currently authorised for use in the UK, the VMD’s rules state that a vet ‘can prescribe a legally obtained human CBD product’ but that ‘administration of an unauthorised product containing CBD without a veterinary prescription is an offence under Regulation 8 of the VMR’. It goes on to state that ‘companies supplying CBD products for human use in line with the requirements of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency must not indicate or recommend their products for use on animals’.
Whilst this last statement might appear to contradict the fact that vets can prescribe CBD for humans for use with pets, our guess is that as not all CBD products are created with the same rigour and gives the VMR and individual vets the opportunity to approve products that only contain ingredients that are safe for animals especially if they’re being ingested. This way, owners will be prevented from unwittingly giving their pets a product that could cause them harm.
As we know the adoption of CBD is moving at breakneck speed and as with most things that start across the pond, it can only be a matter of time before the first brand is approved by the VMR to launch a range of CBD oil products for pets here in the UK. Until then, to protect your pets, we advise you to follow the VMD’s rules.